Hiba Express – Holborn

Reviewed on September 15th, 2013 by Dina

Hiba Express always seemed to me that it was a takeaway place. This is the impression that I got from its name or maybe because at a quick glance, it looks like a really small eatery. But this is definitely not the case. It is a proper restaurant and it also does takeaways.

There is some cordoned off seating by the entrance and inside the restaurant it is a lot bigger than first expected. All the food is cooked fresh and I got the impression that it would be fairly busy at lunchtimes for takeaways, as there were dedicated order points and collection points. At the back of the Hiba Express, was a colourful display of all the fresh fruits that would be used for the fresh juices and for desserts!

A selection of hot and cold mezze were ordered. You can never go wrong with the classic Moutabal Baba Ghanouj with its creamy consistency of the puree of the grilled aubergine with sesame paste and lemon juice. It was topped with the red jewels of pomegranate!  Another favourite was the Grilled Halloumi Cheese. There is the option to have it as a fried dish if that takes your liking!

Hiba ExpressHiba Express InteriorHiba Express Interior 2Hiba Express Grilled Halloumi CheeseHiba Express MezzeHiba Express Bammieh B’ZeitHiba Express Fresh JuiceHiba Express Fruit PlatterHiba Express Mint Tea

The Batata Harara were cubes of sauteed potatoes with garlic, coriander and red pepper strips. The mezze was completed with the Loubieh B’Zeit French beans cooked with tomatoes and onions. It all came with a basket of warm flatbread. The dishes were delicious and very filling so much so that we were not sure if we would be able to manage the main course.

Big chunks of okra in a tomato and onion based sauce made up the Bammieh B’Zeit. It was served with a dish of vermicelli rice. The main course had a lot of flavour to it and it is always nice to have the different type of rice combined with the noodles.

The food at Hiba Express was cooked fresh and there were fairly big portions. The main course was served while we were still having our mezze, so we asked the staff if they could keep it warm until we were ready for it. They kept it covered with foil and on their hot plate until we had finished the starters.

To finish the meal and to have something a little palate cleansing, the Fresh Fruit Platter was chosen. This was a selection of sliced banana, melon, pineapple and orange. It was nice that we could see the staff preparing the fruit at the fruit counter.

For drinks, it had to be one of the fresh juices and the combination chosen was mango and pineapple. Another good drink to end the meal was the mint tea, which was served by the pot!

Hiba Express gave us good service and quality food in a relaxed environment! It will be tempting to go back there for a takeaway meal. One thing to note is that it is open until the late hours!

Hiba Express, 113 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6JQ

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Mezza Express – Camden Town

Reviewed on July 13th, 2011 by Dina

Just a short walk away from Camden Market is Mezza Express! It looks fairly normal from the outside. But once inside, it’s a different story!

Mezza Express opened out into a lovely organised spacious dining area. The back of the restaurant had a big glass front that looked out onto an outside garden area. I thought that this was part of the restaurant but the waiter told me that it was part of the coffee shop next door.

The staff and service were fantastic. They made us feel very welcome and comfortable. Even after we had finished our meal and didn’t want any coffee or dessert, we just said to the staff that we were having a nice catch up amongst friends! The waiter then said that that was lovely and that he was happy that we were there. It was all very genuine and it’s not often that you get that level of friendliness from the staff.

Mezza Express had a set menu which I chose. But on the menu, there was stuffed vine leaves and tabbouleh, both of which I am not keen on. So, I asked if it would be possible to change those dishes to falafel and the spinach filled pastry. The waiter said that was absolutely fine!

So as well as the two dishes mentioned, the starters were made up of hommos and grilled halloumi cheese. All were great and were served with warm flatbread.

My friend had the Lebanese sausages and the Samke Harra fish ratatouille, both of which she enjoyed! We decided to share the main course and went with the waiter’s suggestion of Mousakaat with rice. The baked aubergine with chickpeas and tomatoes was a big portion and all the flavours were good! There was plenty of aubergine and tomatoes in the dish!

Mezza Express gave us a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon meal! It is definitely a place that I would return to!

Mezza Express, 47 Parkway, Camden Town, London, NW1 7PN

Rating: ★★★★★

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Randa (Maroush) – Kensington High Street

Reviewed on November 12th, 2010 by Dina

Randa is part of the Maroush chain of Lebanese restaurants. This restaurant has a spiral staircase which leads to the upper level.

A selection of mezza made up our meal! I like having mezza as it means that you get to taste lots of different dishes! The only thing is that it took us a little while to decide which dishes to choose as Randa has an extensive menu!

For the cold mezza, we had the Hommos Beiruty and Moussaka. This variety of hommos had the addition of parsley and hot pepper, so it was a nice twist on the classic hommos! The Moussaka was a fairly big dish made of fried aubergines, chickpeas, tomatoes and onions. It was like a chunky thick stew!

The hot dish was Batata Harra and Fried Vegetables. This was a dry dish which consisted of cubes of sauteed potatoes with garlic, pepper, coriander and chilli. It was slightly spicy and all the flavours worked well together. It reminded us an Indian potato dry curry!

The savoury pastries sounded interesting, so we ordered the Manakeesh, which was a pastry topped with sesame seeds and thyme. Unfortunately, the waiter informed us that they did not have any left. So instead, we had another baked pastry, Fatayer B’sabanekh. We enjoyed this as it wasn’t greasy and the filling of spinach and onions was good!

We were served with warm round pitta breads! Just what we needed to go with our selection of food! We were also given a big bowl of chunky salad vegetables and olives.

At the end of the meal, we were served with a selection of baklavas! These were perfect to satisfy my sweet tooth! Randa does a range of fresh juices and teas. The fresh mint tea was served by the pot and came with a little red cup!

Randa has a high standard of food and service. The staff were friendly and helpful with their suggestions! The displays of fresh fruit made a colourful attractive addition to the decor!

Randa (Maroush), 23 Kensington Church Street, London, W8 4LF

Rating: ★★★★½

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